I'm going to be taking ownership of a Webley VI that was shaved to 45ACP from a friend next week and I'd like to get a jump on reloading some rounds for her. I'm currently set up to reload 45ACP using 5.2gr of Win 231 under a 230gr Berry plated bullet. This gives me an average of 755 ft/sec with a power factor of 174. From reading some posts this is way to high for the Webley. So I'm wondering what people that reload are using as a recipe for their Webleys?
Preferably I would like to stay with Win231 as I'm already set up. But, if there is a much superior load using a different powder I'd appreciate knowing what it is. I can always get another conversion tray. I've also read that some move from the 230gr 45ACP and use .455 LC bullets with 45ACP casings. If that works best then I'll have to get a 45 LC die.
Thanks for the help!
Before I shot anything I'd measure your cylinder throads. On my Mk I, Mk V and Mk VI they all measure .448. I don't like running a .451 jacketed bullet through my cylinder throats that are .448 as I think it raises pressures when you don't need to, especially in .45 acp standard or factory loads. I'm sure a lot of people do it, I don't. I use a lead bullet and have good accuracy to 25 yards using 3.1 grains of bullseye, something similar with 231 would work as well, I don't need to drive them fast as long as they are accurate. It's sort of moot to shoot a .455 bullet through a .448 cylinder throat as it is sizing it down to .448, unless the bullet has a thin hollow base that will then blow back out, but again, I've always gotten excellent accuracy in mine using standard 185 or 200 grain lswc bullets, in either 45 auto rim or .45 acp cases. they shoot about 1.5" low at 25 yards, but closer are very close to poa but accuracy is around 2" offhand at 25 yards, so I don't mind aiming slightly high.
Last edited by burkefj; 03-17-2017 at 04:42 PM.
An unattributable old photocopied handbook shows 5.2 grains 231 doing 824 fps in a .45 case with a 230 grain jacketed bullet and turning 17100 cup, which may be a little warm for you. Try Perfecta .45 cartridges, available from Walmart, which seem to clock about 750 in the Marks V and VI revolvers fired. A nice feature of the hollow base bullets, by the way, is they offer reduced pressure and velocity in comparison to flat base bullets. Using that bullet seated .285" deep in a .45 case with 4.0 grains Unique clocked 471 fps, while the flat base .454" swc did 545. In the less commodious .455 Mark II cases, with consequent higher pressures, the same bullets do about 615 fps and 670. Using a light bullet will make the gun shoot low.
Several points to make here...
1. Ideally you want to keep your pressures at or under 12,500 psi. That is the correct working pressure range that a Mk VI is designed for. WW231 and Unique really work best/most efficiently at 15,000 psi and greater. Less than that makes for a very dirty load, more so with Unique than 231, and velocities spreads are correspondingly greater. Consider using Trail Boss as it is designed for low-pressure applications. In your case, a charge of 3.5-4.0 grains with your 230 grain bullets should safely get you about 600 fps and stay at or under 12,000 psi.
2. Alliant powders, in in their 2005 Reloader's Guide, claims that a powder charge of 5.0 grains of Unique behind a 230 grain lead bullet produces a pressure of 11,800 psi. I used this load for a long time and found it to be extremely dirty, and produced velocities around 550 fps. It works but is unsatisfying. Very safe, though.
3. At 17,000 CUP's, Ward's 5.2 grain 231 load is operating at the low end of .45 acp +P pressures. The Webley can handle it without blowing up but it's putting an unnecessary strain on the gun. Think more in terms of 4.0 grains of 231/12,000 CUP's if you really just have to use 231. You can make it work but it is decidedly NOT your best choice.
4. While you can use .45 acp dies to reload for the Webley, best results will be obtained when resizing with a .45 Colt die and using the remaining .45 acp dies to expand, seat, & crimp. Both .455 MK II and .45 Colt cases are straight-walled at .478" and .480" O.D. respectively. The .45 acp case is actually slightly tapered, down to .473" O.D. at the case mouth, so using a .45 Colt die for resizing works the case less than a .45 acp die will and keeps the case dimensions closer to the correct size.
5. Frank is absolutely right about the cylinder throat thing. I have yet to see a "modern" Mk V or Mk VI with cylinder throats outside the .448"-.450" range, so there is absolutely no need to look for .454" or .455" bullets. They will just put more strain on the revolver as the throats size them down. Conventional .451" bullets will be fine and the Berry's plated bullets are an excellent choice IMHO, although Ward is right that 230 grainers will likely shoot a tad low since Webley sights are typically regulated for 265 grain bullets.
6. Finally, if you already shoot .45 acp ammo in a 1911 or other semi-auto, consider just buying a couple hundred .45 AutoRim brass cases for downloaded ammunition so as to not make the mistake of using the weaker stuff in your semi-autos (bad) or the factory stuff in your Webley (worse). If you must use .45 acp cases please note that full moon clips are great for self defense but are a pain at the range. 1/3 moon clips as sold by Ranch Industries are easier to link and de-link without tools, and they also allow your ammo to fit into conventional ammo boxes. Midway and others sell them. 25 third-moon clips at $7 cost about a buck less than do 8 full moon clips at $8; go figure.
The rubber RimZ clips are another convenient option but they cushion the firing pin blow. If your mainspring is not up to full power then expect misfires. I have two (of 8) Webleys that work fine with steel moon clips but won't shoot reliably with RimZ due to age-weakened mainsprings.
Thanks everyone for the great replies. Looks like I'll be needing a new conversion plate and will be trying out some new powders. Not stuck on 231, but figured it would be easier. Though it sounds like there are many other better options so if I'm going to do it I want to do it right the first time. Plus it gives me another reason to hit the range more often.
Like I said, I prefer bullseye but you could try something in the low 4.x range with 231 and 200 lswc and see how it shoots, I've found the low velocity sort of counters the lighter bullet and my poa is not far off, and accuracy is good. If you have it it's worth a try.
When I had a Webley .455 I used Winchester WST with 250gr flat nosed lead projectiles intended for the Colt .45. They worked well.
I understand that the tight throats on Webley cylinders were intended to build up pressure before the projectile made the jump from cylinder to barrel. The hollow base then allowed the skirt at the base of the bullet to expand and seal the barrel. I don't know of any other manufacturer that used this system.
It is interesting that the Enfield revolver that preceded the Webley had a barrel that was designed for a .455 projectile, but later Marks of ammunition used .476 projectiles. They had a deep hollow base and were just squeezed down to fit the barrel. Commercially it was referred to as the .476 Enfield, but the military designation never mentioned .476.
Because the Enfield had a "selective" extraction system, where empty cases were removed, but loaded rounds stayed partially in the cylinder, apparently they had to increase the diameter of the projectiles to the same size as the external diameter of the case, so that loaded rounds wouldn't tilt and become jammed when empty case were being extracted. They had in effect reinvented the heeled bullet.
Webley's are best shot with lead bullets and lighter loads. They tend to have soft steel barrels with shallow rifling that wears out quickly and shooting lots of jacketed bullets and warm loads with larger diameter jacketed loads will sooner than later turn them into the much maligned wobbly Webley.
I have owned about 5 Webley break action revolvers and nearly all had tight chamber throats and bores (most around .449) with a couple showing signs of shooting jacketed bullets (rifling worn almost out) and warm loads (lots of looseness in the hinge and wobble when held by barrel and grip and jiggled).
With these worn and loose Webley's it was very hard to get decent accuracy or groups (about 8" at 15 yards was common).
I find that by sticking to correctly sized 200 gr. lead bullet with a 3.5 to 4 gr. Trail Boss or similar Unique load of around 650 - 700 fps (or around 10,000 psi.) in .45 auto rim cases is about optimum for long term accurate use with these older break action revolvers. As mentioned above, 231 powder even in a minimum .45 acp load is still a bit on the high pressure side with these old break action revolvers and TB will get you the same velocity with less pressure and wear on the revolver.
They are not anywhere as strong as a full frame revolver and if you don't care about wearing it out fast then yes you can still load it with warm, jacketed .452 loads but it is not the best option by any means.
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